Former Grange Hill actress Lisa Hammond is to join the cast of EastEnders as tough market stall holder Donna Yates, who is set to declare war on rivals Kat (Jessie Wallace) and Bianca (Patsy Palmer).
Hammond, who has a restricted growth condition, is the second regular disabled character to have featured on the BBC1 soap following David Proud's portrayal of Adam Best between 2009 and 2010. EastEnders today confirmed to RadioTimes.com that the character was not conceived as a wheelchair user, but that Hammond won out in her audition against able-bodied actors.
Hammond, whose other screen credits include Psychoville and Bleak House, said: “I’m really excited to join the cast of EastEnders. It’s a great opportunity to be a part of such a big and popular show. Donna is a bit of a handful but they’re always the most fun characters to play! It feels good to be bad!”
Executive producer Dominic Treadwell-Collins added: “Donna’s not an easy character to like at first. She’s flinty, aggressive and difficult. As we get to know her better, however, we will discover a funny, loyal but also fragile woman underneath. Lisa is a brilliantly comic and sharp actress and we’ve been trying to get her into the EastEnders cast for a long time – so I’m delighted that it has finally happened.”
Viewers will see loudmouth Donna battling to be top dog on Bridge Street market by refusing to let her guard down. Show bosses are promising that the character will "take no prisoners", but that her in-your-face persona could be just a front. Hammond's first scenes will air from April this year.